(Photo: Brooke Faber/WCSN)
The script couldn’t have been written any better.
It was Senior Day for No. 9 Arizona State, their final home game of the regular season and a day that is always emotional for the seniors on the roster.
The Sun Devils were taking on a tough Washington team led by junior guard Kelsey Plum, one of the leading scorers in the entire NCAA, and the start to the game wasn’t promising.
In the opening quarter, Plum exploded for 11 points to help give Washington a 21-12 lead, and things looked bleak for an ASU team with five seniors on the roster.
That’s when Quinn Dornstauder showed up.
After scoring just two points in the opening quarter, the Sun Devils began to feed the ball inside, and Dornstauder erupted for the best game of her career at ASU.
Behind Dornstauder’s career-high 25 points, ASU (24-4, 15-1 Pac-12) was able to comeback from a nine-point first quarter deficit to blow out the Washington Huskies (18-9, 9-7 Pac-12) in its final home game of the regular season 77-57.
“That first quarter was little shaky,” said head coach Charli Turner Thorne. “We were emotional is what I thought. I think we were just a little not locked in.”
The comeback really began to take off when in the second quarter, senior point guard Elisha Davis knocked down two consecutive three-pointers to cut what was a nine-point lead down to three points.
From then on, the Sun Devils and the Huskies traded blows for the remainder of the second quarter with Washington heading into the halftime break ahead 30-28.
For ASU, the third quarter completely changed the outcome of the game.
The Sun Devils came out firing on the first possession with an Arnecia Hawkins three-pointer, giving them their first lead of the entire game; however, much of the third quarter followed the same narrative as the second. Both teams continued to go back and forth in a seemingly endless struggle for the lead.
Even with all of these baskets being traded between the two teams, one lone possession may have been the turning point.
ASU fed the ball down low to Dornstauder, but as she went up to take the shot, she was pulled down hard by her hair by Plum. Dornstauder fell to the ground and a scrum between the two teams ensued.
After further review, Plum was issued a flagrant 1 foul, meaning that Dornstauder would go to the line and shoot two free throws and ASU would retain possession of the ball. Dornstauder was able to hit one of two of those free throws, tying the game up at 38 a piece.
Following the foul, everything began to fall apart for Washington. ASU was able to go on a 15-0 run to break the game open and dig Washington into a deep hole. The Sun Devils went up 52-38, but things continued to get chippy in the fourth quarter as Washington’s Chantel Osahor grabbed ASU’s Sophie Brunner by the neck to prevent her from scoring a transition bucket.
The foul resulted in yet another scrum, this time with Hempen stepping in to prevent the mosh from becoming anything more than that.
“I was just trying to break it up,” Hempen said. “I saw that Osahor grabbed Sophie [Brunner] by the neck to stop her from going; I just went up to her and I said ‘Hey, you guys we need to stop this.’ I thought the refs did a really good job of keepings things under control.”
Despite the way it looked to the fans, Hempen insisted that there is no bad blood between the two teams.
“After every foul we went up to each other and were like, ‘Are you guys good? We’re good, we’re gonna drop it,’” Hempen said. “That was it, so I thought both teams even though there were a couple flagrant fouls held our composure, and we didn’t let things get out of hand.”
The Sun Devils were able to outscore the Huskies 49-27 in the second half, buoyed by Dornstauder’s 17 second half points and 25 points overall.
It broke her former career-high of 23 points, we she achieved in a win over Stanford as a sophomore.
“Quinn was on fire all week,” Turner Thorne said with a smile on her face. “I was fairly confident that she was gonna go off today. She got into the gym extra this week and was hitting everything.”
Her 25 points are also the most any player has scored for this ASU team all season long. Dornstauder was able to go toe to toe with one of the nation’s best scorers in Plum, matching her point total but doing so much more efficiently as she was 11-for-19 from the floor.
Dornstauder was not the only player getting on the board for ASU, though. Brunner scored 11 points to go with seven rebounds, Davis scored 11 along with six assists, and Hempen was able to score 11 as well, nearly notching a double-double with nine assists.
Excluding an abysmal first quarter, it was an exceptional performance from Dornstauder and the ASU team as a whole.
The win is their 6th straight and moves them to 24-4 on the season. It also gives them their 14th conference win, matching their second highest conference win total in program history.
The Sun Devils have never won a conference title outright, but currently sit tied atop the rankings with No. 7 Oregon State, who has one conference loss as well.
Player of the Game: Quinn Dornstauder
Quinn Dornstauder, sometimes referred to as the “Saskatchewan Sensation,” was able to live up to that name today. Her performance was absolutely sensational.
With ASU off to a rough start and struggling to find an answer to Washington’s zone defense, Dornstauder put the weight of the team on her shoulders and became the answer to all of ASU’s problems.
Possession after possession the Sun Devils fed the ball inside to Dornstauder, and possession after possession she was able to answer the call, eventually winding up with a career-high 25 points when ASU needed it the most.
A 20-point victory never looks close on paper, but it was absolutely a highly contested game for the majority of the time. Thanks to Dornstauder’s offensive explosion, the Sun Devils were able to break away from Washington and secure one last home win in the regular season.
“It’s a big game for everyone, especially the seniors,” Dornstauder said. “I just wanted to make sure it was a good one and that we go out on a win for them.”
Honorable Mention: Katie Hempen
The magnitude of Dornstauder’s performance overshadowed just how good Hempen was. She played the most minutes of any Sun Devil with 31, and quietly was on the cusp of achieving a double-double with 11 points and nine assists. She was also an integral part of the ASU defensive attack that held Washington to 15 points under its season average of 72 points per game.
Stat of the Night: 50 percent
ASU, a team not known for their ability to put up points, was stellar on the offensive end tonight. As a unit, the Sun Devils were able to convert on exactly 50 percent of their shots, going 29-for-58 from the floor against Washington.
The feat is all the more impressive as they were only able to go 6-for-15 in the first quarter. Their hot shooting and fluidity on offense was a major part of what allowed them to climb back and close out this game.
Next weekend, the Sun Devils will travel to Los Angeles for a pair of games against USC (Friday) and UCLA (Sunday). Tipoff for the USC game will be at 7pm.